Upgraded computer and fiber networking could reduce the weight of the M1A3 tank by 2 tons

The U.S. Army is making prototypes now of the M1A3 tank. The Russia-Ukraine war is increasing the need for modernized armor.

Production units of the M1A3 should be ready around 2017. Estimates have determined that if the current computer cabling in the M1A2 tank were replaced with state-of-the-art fiber-optic cables, the weight of the tank could be reduced by almost two tons.

The Abrams has been criticized for its size and weight. At almost 70 tons, the tank has proven difficult to transport by air into foreign combat zones. It is incapable of crossing most bridges. The U.S. Army hopes to rectify these problems with the new M1A3 version of the Abrams, which is planned to be lighter and more manoeuvrable than previous generations.

To make the next version lighter and more mobile, the Army plans to replace the M256 smoothbone gun with a lighter 120 millimeter cannon; install a more durable track; use lighter armor; and insert precision armaments capable of hitting targets from 12 kilometers. Preliminary plans also call for the addition of an infrared camera and laser detector.

While the Future Combat Systems program was discontinued in the meantime, the types of ammunition continue to be developed:

Advanced Kinetic Energy (AKE): The APFSDS projectile shall be named M829E4. It should be ready now

Advanced Multi-Purpose (AMP): multipurpose grenade, which is intended to replace M908 (Obstacle Reduction), M830 (HEAT), M830A1 (MPAT) and M1028 (Canister) by a grenade type. This also should be ready now.

Mid-Range Munitions (MRM): self-homing end bullet for indirect fire in up to 12 km away. Should be ready now.

Four tracked vehicle programs and one wheeled vehicle have significant ramp-ups in the 2016 budget request:

* $368 million for upgrades to the M1 Abrams tank, up 50 percent from $237 million in fiscal 2015.
* $225 million for upgrades to the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle (a hybrid of tank and troop carrier), up 65 percent from $136 million in ’15.
* $230 million to begin detailed design of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), a turretless support variant of the Bradley, up 150 percent from $92 million.
* $152 million to further refine the upgraded M109 Paladin howitzer — known blandly as Paladin * Integrated Management or PIM — which rebuilds the vehicle with Bradley automotive components (notice a pattern?), up 90 percent from $80 million. (Note that’s R&D funds; actual procurement funding for PIM remains steady at $274 million for 30 vehicles).
* $308 million to buy 450 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV), which replace the all-too-vulnerable Humvee, up 86 percent from $165 million.

SOURCES – usmilitary.about.com, Breaking Defense, Youtube, wikipedia, DTIC.mil